The art of weaving was well known to the Polynesians, but was used more for such things as baskets and even shelters. They lacked suitable fibres for spinning and weaving cloth.
A widely used cloth for bedding and clothing throughout Polynesia and the Pacific, and even areas of Asia, was the tapa cloth. The production of tapa cloth was more akin to the process of paper making.
The inner bark of various trees is stripped and beaten into a "fusion." In many Pacific island, the resulting cloth would then be further embellished by dyeing, printing or stamping, often using symbols belonging to the wearer or his/her tribe or family.
My friend Annette, who has spent time on Pitcairn, says the freshly-made tapa cloth is a little stiff for clothing, and was often used for bedding until it had become softer.
My task for last month's "Stitching Together" Round Robin was to interpret the word "Ethnic." I chose to interpret the ethnicity of my DH Bernie and my children, which is best descibed as "Bounty Tahitian."
Because we are a needlework group, and as such fascinated by anything textile, I thought I would feature the making of Tapa cloth.
Pauline is a Norfolk Islander of Bounty descent. She is married to George, who is a Tahitian Tattoo artist. They have been living in Tahiti for some years, but have now relocated, with their two children, to Norfolk Island.
Bernie (right) with George Barff, Pauline and young Mauatua
This picture was taken in Tahiti.
It shows Meralda, who is a Pitcairn Islander of Bounty descent, and, like Pauline, very proud of her roots. The little girl is Pauline's daughter Mauatua, who is named after Fletcher Christian's Tahitian wife. Together, Meralda and Mauatua are beating some bark with a wooden mallet to produce a piece of Tapa.
This is a piece of tapa made by Pauline from the bark of the Pacific Banyan, and displayed at our Community Arts Exhibition this year.
Pauline very kindly produced a small piece of tapa cloth for me, and I attached it to my page using a strip of cloth produced by Sue, another Norfolk Artist of Bounty descent. Sue produces wonderful lengths of printed cloth, using Polynesian style designs.
The background of my page is a piece of marbled fabric that I made a while back.
I added some shells and black pearls (faux, unfortunately) to add to the symbolism of the page.